My Year at JG Meiring

When I first arrived at JG Meiring I was scared, excited and nervous all at the same time. All my mixed emotions of the new environment made my mind blank when I had to introduce myself to my new peers and educators, but eventually I got the hang of things.

One of my greatest fears of the move was the traveling. I never thought that I would have to use a train and taxi to get to school. And having to be in the presence of strangers each and every school day. Luckily for me, I made a couple of friends whom I could travel with. On several occasions I bumped into creepy, sick-minded persons who wanted to do harm unto me, with prayer I got through that.

Coming from St. Andrew's, going to JGM was a huge change for me. I had to deal with new characters, some good, bad and others simply weird. It wasn't easy making friends at all, but in the final quarter I found that one person that I think is someone I can trust, Caitlin Burrows. But not all was good, bad spirited people can't be left out. A group of 'black' girls, the Devine Divas, were victimising me with emotional bullying. Going for counselling at school and informing the head of grade and disciplinary educator lightened the weight on my shoulders. And surely enough, in the first two weeks of the fourth term I could see a difference in their behaviour and ways towards me.

For the time I have spent at JGM, I learnt how to be strong and independent on a different level and that has shaped me into a much more confident and strong individual.

For 2014 and the years to come, I hope to do much better academically and to grow into a matured, brave and humbled person, someone my mother will be proud of and who I too will be proud of.

Thandi (20/12/2013)



Grade 10 and more

A happy festive season to all. Another year has passed and it's been a year of firsts. We started supporting our first student, Thandi Saliem. We had our first Mother's Day Brunch which was a success. We had our first fundraising dinner which unfortunately was not a success but a great learning opportunity. We have two new students whose academic records were good enough to get them accepted at two top schools. We started a small library at 13 Magnolia Road, Uitsig. And all with your support - Thank you. I cannot wait to see what next year has in store for CDC and the community we serve.

Thandi has passed to Grade 10! This has been quite a challenging year for her. She had to learn to travel to school alone, she had to adjust to a new environment which had higher expectations of her than her previous school, and she had to fit in and make new friends. None of which was easy. For those unfamiliar with the South African school system - Primary school goes from Grade R to Grade 7 (aged 6/7-12/13) and High School goes from Grade 8 to Grade 12.

Caylin has passed to Grade 12. Her last year at school which will be dominated not only by exams but by the long awaited Matric Ball. The Matric Ball is a going away formal dance for the Grade 12 students. This is usually the first time that the students get to dress up and could be seen as equivalent to the Prom in USA.

Keasha and Alison are excited to start at Jan van Riebeek next year. They will attend a welcoming camp in January. Although their home situations are not ideal (far from it), both girls were loathe to live at a hostel. Taking this into consideration, CDC decided that the girls would travel to school from their homes, but we will be monitoring their home environment and academic progress on an ongoing basis. In the meantime, we are still looking for a host family in Cape Town to offer them a stable home environment and to give them support with homework and school projects.

We are still looking for premises for our after care facility. The parish priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church could not help us since his premises are regularly used by the parish members.

The small 'library' at 13 Magnolia Road, Uitsig, is being used regularly. I will be flying to Cape Town for my annual visit and will take some more books and educational toys. If you have any you would like to donate, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'll gladly fetch any books or toys you may have to offer.

Thank you for your continued support.

Our bank details:

Bank: Credit Suisse
A/c Holder: Care and development of Children
Address: Grand-Rue 17, 1700 Fribourg
Konto: 1896248-01
IBAN CH04 0483 5189 6248 0100 0

In Cape Town:

Bank - Nedbank

A/c Holder: Care and development of Children

a/c no.:  1012972488

Branch code: 108309


Rest in Peace Madiba

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world - Nelson Mandela (1918-2013).

Utata, Madiba,Mandela

We as a nation thank you

For all you have done

You made all the races

Unite as one


You helped us stand up

Against the “White-man’s law”

You gave us hope for a future

A future we never saw


Madiba, you stood amongst us

No fear was shown in your eyes

Your love for family and friends

Do we only now recognize


In 1918 our hero was born

He grew up in a worn out broken dream

But he rose above all the poverty and lies

And helped all races work as a team


You were our country

Although you were only one man

But peace and hope filled us

And so our freedom began


Although we aren’t the richest country

We sure have our spirit, voice and love

The great man who was our leader

Now leads us from above.

-Stacey Bester  13/11/13


The community where we are active

It is difficult to convey to people the needs in our community especially when they have no frame of reference. After care is needed. Recently there was a story in the news of two toddlers that had been raped and killed. This is not the exception. South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world. Another scourge on the community is gangsterism, which is rife and often seen as the only way out of a hopeless situation. Tik or methamphetamine use is widespread in the coloured communities especially the communities most heavily affected by gangsterism, like the area where we are trying to help (Tik stats). Unemployment in this area is 60%. 47% of this community has a level of education of Grade 7 or less. 67% has a salary of R3500 (310 chf per month) or less (TB study). Let's do the maths - With R3500 per month, that is R42000 per year. Of that, on average, a better school costs R20000 per child which leaves R22000 per year (if there is only one child in the family, which is often not the case), which is about R1850 (164 chf) per month. From this, the family has to pay rent, electricity, municipal bills, buy food, pay transportation to work, health insurance, clothes, shoes, etc.

Sending these children to better schools helps boost their self confidence and self worth and makes all their sacrifices and hardwork worth the effort. I know how it feels because I was such a student.

Why have we only sent one student overseas and why do we only have one student placed in a better school? Because we are careful. Of course we can place more children but each student costs on average R20000 per year for 5 years. If we don't have that money anywhere along their school career, we would have to send the children back to the schools they wanted to avoid. This would be worse than if they had never experienced something better.

With the help of Mr Gary Faulmann and his teachers at Holy Trinity Primary School Matroosfontein, we have been able to identify 2 students, Keasha and Alison, who show the potential to succeed if given the chance. The Schumann-family will finance one student. Please would you help us finance the others too. Many small contributions help.

To those who supported the fundraising dinner, thank you. Your help is greatly appreciated.



Fundraising dinner



The Mother's Day Brunch was a small success. Thank you to all who attended or who gave donations. This event will be an annual fundraiser for CDC, so please keep us in mind next Mother's Day. Photos will be uploaded soon. Congratulations to Mrs Pam Cupido on winning the bid for the Club Mykonos getaway.


Thandi performed satisfactorily in her exams considering that she only started at the school in April and had to do a tremendous amount of catching up. She was placed 41st out of 234 students in her grade. Also available under Project 1 is an essay written by Thandi outlining her experiences at the different schools as well as photos of her living conditions. Thandi and her mom live in a one-bedroom flat in low-economic housing.


We, with the help of Mr Faulmann (the principal) and the teachers at Holy Trinity Primary School, have identified a third student that we would like to sponsor. Keasha Commando is Afrikaans-speaking and is a consistent hard worker. Her mother is unemployed and they live with eight other family members in a small house in a low-economic area. Keasha has performed well academically and shown the potential to succeed if given the chance. We would like to give her the chance.


An update on the aftercare. Mr Faulmann was unable to accommodate us due to lack of space in his school. We will now approach the priest of Holy Trinity Catholic Church which is situated next to the school with regards to leasing or using the hall at the church. A new parish priest arrives in two weeks, so we will wait until then to forward our proposal. Mr Faulmann has kindly agreed to discuss the matter with the new parish priest.


Thank you for your continued support



Fundraising Event

Thandi started at her new school after the Easter holidays, on 8 April, and is working hard to bridge the gap in standards between her old and new school. She is enjoying the challenge.

The library has been frequented by a few children, but not nearly as many as we would like. We are considering expanding the library to include books for adults, because children learn through example.

Discussions are still ongoing with Mr Faulmann regarding aftercare for his pupils. It is recognised that there is a need for after care, but the facilities are a problem. Because of the area in which the school is situated, keeping the school open after hours poses a risk to school property.

CDC will be hosting a Mother's Day brunch at St Mary's cathedral Parish Centre in Cape Town on 11 May 2013 from 10am. A buffet of delicious food will be catered by Ardi's. There will be a special appearance by Julian Naidoo, a presenter on Heart 104.9fm, a popular radiostation in Cape Town. Along with the food and entertainment, patrons will have the opportunity to win great prizes, including a mid-week breakaway to either Avalon or Club Mykonos. Tickets cost R125. Can't attend? Please consider supporting us anyway by buying a ticket.

Thank you for your continued support



Moving forward

I had a great 4 weeks in Cape Town. Besides the great weather and relaxing on the beach, CDC made some huge strides forward.

After visiting the principal Mr Gary Faulmann, of Holy Trinity Primary School in Matroosfontein (our alma mater), CDC is funding the education of Thandi Saliem. Thandi comes from a single parent family. She lives in low economic housing which is overrun with gangsters, drug users, alcohol abusers and the like. Regardless of this volatile environment, Thandi was able to consistently perfom well academically. Due to lack of funds, her mom enrolled her in a school nearby. The performance rate at the school is really bad and the acting principal admitted that the standard of the school is low. A teacher of Thandi's opined that Thandi is not being challenged. Most of the 4 weeks in Cape Town was spent finding Thandi a place in an ex-Model C school. For comparison - Thandi's current school charges R550 (57 chf or 46 euro) school fees p.a. whereas an ex-Model C school charges between R4000 - R20000 (417-2088 chf; 338-1691 euro) p.a. This excludes the costs for school uniform, extracurricular activity, and transport to school (there are no ex-Model C schools in the area). Because the school year started in January, most schools were full, but we were successful at J.G. Meiring High School, who although they were full, agreed to accommodate Thandi. Thank you to the principal, Mr Linderts and Mr Africa at the Department of Education in Parow.

All information regarding Thandi (report cards, photo, etc) will be uploaded to our website under Projects: Project 1-Fostering and Educating.

In line with our objective of improving the education of children from impoverished backgrounds, CDC has started a small library at 13 Magnolia Road, Uitsig or Thomas house. Since the Swiss visa application for Mr Thomas was denied, Thomas house as a foster home will not come into being just yet. The library contains English and Afrikaans books, as well as puzzles and some toys. Mr Thomas is currently running the library. More books are welcome. For pictures of the library please visit our website.

CDC has also approached the principal of C.L. Wilmot Primary School, a school in an impoverished area where gangsterism is rife. CDC proposes to manage an after-school care facility for students from the school and with the permission of the principal, use the facilities of the school for this purpose. CDC would provide an afternoon lunch snack for the children and would also supply educational toys with which to occupy the children. We hope to find volunteers from the community to supervise the children and supervise their homework. In this way we hope to keep the children in a safe environment until their parents get home from work, while providing a supportive environment that will improve their academic performance. In addition to Thandi, we aim to fund a student from this school and one from Holy Trinity, next year, as part of our ongoing project.

As part of our fundraising efforts, we are selling CDC bracelets. These bracelets were designed and made by Fair Trade organisations in South Africa. The cost of the bracelet is 6 chf or 5 euro.

Thank you for your continued support, it is greatly appreciated.






Idealistically realistic

Last week I attended a three-day course on Ethical and Legal aspects in Clinical Trials. As is common when looking at ethics, the more you delve, the more questions are raised. The whole course was quite interesting, but two main incidents got me thinking.

One of the speakers was talking about responsibility. How we shouldn't pass on responsibility (pass the buck), but rather own it. She was using the pharmaceutical industry as an example and saying that when they go into a country to do clinical trials, they should become involved in the country and not have a narrow view by only concentrating on the clinical trial and the people directly involved in the trial. What she wanted from us the students, was, I thought at the time, rather idealistic - we should all be aware of our surroundings, be aware of the impact we have and the consequences of our actions, that change starts with each of us, stand up for what you believe in even if you could lose your job, stick to your principles. Questioning her idealism struck me as strange since I used to consider myself a bit of an idealist. CDC began because my sisters and I believed in giving back to those less fortunate than ourselves. We believed in making a difference. The reality is that people are concentrating more and more on themselves and less on the needs of others (difficult finding donors and donations). The reality is that my dad is being prohibited from coming to live with us - should the lawyers and immigration officers hide behind interpretations of the law and thus prohibit a 70 year old man from spending the rest of his life with his youngest daughter and her family? The reality is that there are more obstacles when trying to do good - Diane was informed that we cannot sell muffins and cakes and things at events. Although I had been informed that we did not need a permit, apparently we do need something and as adults, we are not allowed to sell either, only school children are allowed to.  With all this, is it surprising that I am losing my idealism and questioning others who are idealistic too? 

The second event that struck me occurred outside lectures. One of my fellow students is pregnant and due in November. I offered to give her the baby clothes that Layla (my 5-month old daughter) has already outgrown. For me, making this offer was no big deal, but the recipient was completely overwhelmed. And again it got me thinking - are small acts of kindness so rare that people are surprised by them? What a sad testament to the world today.

Although the opening of Thomas house is delayed, we have other projects towards which we are working- the academic exchange program (Project 2) and the holiday camps (Project 3).

Today I read a newspaper article about a mother who had struggled for years to have a baby. She finally had a child 6 years ago and this past weekend the child was knocked down and killed by a drunken driver. What an unnecessary death. This article highlighted the need for safe areas where the children can play which is the aim of our project 3.

Trinitarians, the community soccer club that CDC Basel has contacted, is working hard to keep the children in our area of interest (Uitsig) away from gang activity. The club places a strong emphasis on discipline and family values. One notable example is the U/17 team who through hard work and dedication managed to win most of the trophies in the region. This team consists of children from these under-privileged areas who with the help of the club, focussed their energies on sporting activities rather than getting up to mischief. Such dedication should be rewarded and I was hoping that with your help, we could perhaps bring the team to Basel to participate in a local tournament, learn a new culture, and learn that hardwork and discipline pays off. For this, we would need sponsors and contact persons in the local soccer league, so if you know anybody, please forward their details to me.

I would like to have a fundraising supper/concert or something in that direction to raise funds for these projects. Please, if you are able to help in any way or know somebody who can help, contact me or pass on my details. I will eagerly give a presentation of our projects if this is what is needed to get funding.

Your continued support is greatly appreciated.



Since the last newsletter, we've had nothing but disappointments. My dad's application for permanent residency in Switzerland was denied. This was completely unexpected, and therefore Marc and I have appointed a lawyer to appeal the decision. Unfortunately, the appeal process takes months. The repercussions, besides the fact that I won't have my father with me, is that Thomas house will not be opened. The use of Thomas house by CDC was linked with the move of my father to Switzerland. Now, we again wait and see. A disappointment to the children we had lined up, to the housemother, Patricia, and to all involved.

Below a letter from the Chairperson of CDC Cape Town, Ruby-Ann Levendal:

The CDC Board held an extraordinary meeting on 26 July at 20h00 and after extensive deliberations, the majority of the members came to the very difficult decision not to open Thomas House yet. This decision was based on the following:

The new law prohibiting alcohol consumption in the presence of children. Any consumption of alcohol by my father and/or his friends will therefore be in contravention of this law, and the members cannot guarantee that this will not happen.

With the renovation of the separate entrance (for which no funds are currently available) or the move of our father to Switzerland (whichever comes first), Thomas house will go ahead as planned.

We are exploring our options for funding the renovations to effect the move of our father into the separate entrance.

I'll keep you updated. Thank you for your continued support.